Freedom comes with a price: Event honors local veterans, patriotism at open memorial

Freedom comes with a price: Event honors local veterans, patriotism at open memorial

By Cathy Kimmel-Srock
Review Staff Writer
It’s a gathering place for local heroes and all those that honor them.
On Sat., June 25, North Oakland VFW Post 334 hosted an open memorial at the Orion Veterans Memorial to honor veterans who had served in one of the five armed services: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard.
The public gathered to share donuts, hot dogs and refreshments with the veterans, who swapped stories of service to our country.
According to Dr. Joe Mastromatteo, the event, and the memorial itself, raises awareness for the public of the patriotism, love of country and sacrifices made by our veterans.
“It helps impress upon (the public) the sacrifices that veterans have made for the ethics and principles upon which this country was made,” he added. “Their sacrifices are meaningless unless we remember.”
According to Bob Watros, who served in the Navy from 1955-58 and takes care of the memorial, the purpose behind the open memorial event is to celebrate those memories.
“I think that a nation that forgets its past has no future,” he said. “That’s why we are doing this because a lot of young people have forgotten our past.”
Watros explained that he saw that quote on the side of a building in New Mexico while aboard a ship.
“I never forgot it. A nation that forgets its past has no future,” he said.
Several local businesses, including McDonalds of Lake Orion, Starbucks, Costco, Hollywood Market and the Oxford Meijer, assisted in donations for the event, according to Watros.
Lake Orion’s Veteran of the Year, Howard “Red” McCarrick, was also supposed to be honored at the event but was home ill, according to Mastromatteo. McCarrick was a member of the Army Air Corps and served in World War II.
“There is so much to say about him,” Mastromatteo joked, “that we couldn’t get it to fit on one award, so we printed two.”
The ceremony to honor McCarrick has been postponed to a future date to be determined, but that didn’t stop those in attendance from honoring the various veterans present, as well as visiting bricks for their loved ones. The group was also entertained by singers Brian Dalling and Paige Chalou, who each sang a variety of patriotic songs.
The Orion Veterans Memorial is located on M-24 at Odanah Street. There are still some bricks available for purchase, and more information can be found at www.orionveteransmemorial.com.